Slips and falls
Winter conditions are a leading cause of slip-and-fall claims, so it’s important to properly maintain your premises during the winter season.
✓ ensure your contract for outdoor snow removal or winter maintenance (salting/sanding) clearly identifies the responsibility of each party
✓ get proof of insurance from your contractor by asking for a certificate of liability – if they don’t have one, refuse or beware
✓ if you perform your own snow removal, maintain a written or electronic log to record snow removal operations – this is very important should a claim arise and may be your only proof in the court of law
✓ perform regular inspections of your premises – pay attention to high-traffic areas, downspout discharge locations, and areas that are prone to freeze/thaw cycles
✓ stay informed about the weather and be prepared
- if a major storm is coming, ensure you have an adequate supply of salt/sand, shovels, etc.
- check your local Weather Network regularly for more information about what you might need to prepare for a storm
✓ winter can “bring itself” indoors through doorways and other openings
✓ ensure you have adequate rugs and mats in high-traffic areas to prevent slips
✓ provide areas for people to remove their winter clothing and boots – this will help prevent them from tracking snow, ice and water through the building
✓ inspect and clean areas frequently
✓ if you have a backup generator, ensure its adequately maintained and fueled
Reducing property damage
There are a number of potential hazards that can affect your building during the winter, from roof collapses and leaks to frozen pipes. Most can be prevented with a proper maintenance plan in place.
✓ check the condition of your roof before winter strikes – clear any blocked drains and examine flashing and gutters
✓ ice dams occur as a result of snow melting then cooling as it reaches the edge of your roof – ensure adequate insulation and roof venting is in place to prevent water from causing damage within the building
✓ heat trace cabling can be used to reduce ice dams
✓ areas prone to snow drifting and build-up should be reviewed frequently in the winter
✓ always remember to put safety first – if you need to clear snow from your roof, it may be best to leave it to qualified contractors
✓ review areas where piping passes through places that are exposed to low temperatures
✓ review sprinkler systems, irrigation, domestic water lines and sanitary lines
✓ drain the systems that aren’t required during the winter season
✓ pipe insulation or heat tracing cabling can be used to reduce the likelihood of a frozen pipe
✓ monitor your building’s temperature with a thermocouple through your burglar alarm system
✓ if the building temperature falls as a result of heating equipment or power failure, you’ll be notified and emergency actions can be taken
Additional elements around your house or building
✓ ensure sewer drains are free and clear of any obstructions
✓ ensure all public and private fire hydrants are accessible – hydrant markers will aid in identifying hydrants in areas with significant snowfall
✓ protect items such as trees, hydrants and natural gas meters against physical damage from snow removal operations – this may include curbing, posts or bollards
✓ have an emergency response plan in place – at the very least, it should include contact names and phone numbers
✓ include the local fire department, police, staff, local utilities, contractors, etc.